Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Update: How that John Frieda volume treatment actually works (from The Beauty Brains)

I posted that I'd had good results with the John Frieda 7-Day Volume Treatment a while ago, but I wasn't sure what was in it that made it work. The cosmetic chemists at The Beauty Brains have explained it all for us. It's the polyimide-1 ingredient that does it, if that means anything to you. They spell it all out at the link, so I won't repeat it here. Their conclusions seem to be the same as what I came to empirically: it will create some volume, though not a huge amount, which will last for a few days, and it will probably work better on some hair types than others.

(Note: They say that you need to blow dry after the first application to get it to really work, but I had increased volume when I just air dried as well.)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Please ignore the EWG when they tell you not to use your sunscreen

I've made this point a million times by now, probably. I don't care. It's worth reiterating. The Environmental Working Group is not a reliable source of information about cosmetics safety or science in general. It is a lobbying group that was started by personal injury lawyers. Think about the implications of that for a minute. So when they give you a list of "dangerous" sunscreens to avoid, ignore it. Find a more credible source like, say, the Skin Cancer Foundation.

A quick summary of what the Skin Cancer Foundation says: despite the claims of the EWG, there is no evidence that using sunscreens that contains oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate will harm you. You know what causes a proven, serious risk of cancer? Sun exposure without protection.

You already knew that. Just making sure. So use whatever full spectrum sunscreen works best for you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Do I Need This? Oil Cleansing (and Double Cleansing)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission from purchases made through those links.
I've finally returned to my Do I Need This? series, which had been on a year-long hiatus. In these posts, I offer my experience and opinion about whether or not I think a trendy product or technique is worth it. Obviously, you don't really need ANY beauty products, so the answer to the question is always going to be no, to some extent. But is it going to change your life (or face)? Is it going to make things easier? Are you going to notice any difference at all? That's what I'm getting at. You may disagree with my verdict, because we all have different bodies/faces/brains/desires, but I'll try to offer a starting point, at least.

oil cleansing method, double cleansing, and oil cleansers

Oil cleansing is nothing new, and oil in skin care has been a big thing for a while now. We used to always check to make sure our products were labeled "oil-free" (at least those of us with oily or acne-prone skin), but now we're being told to embrace the magical, precious oil, regardless of skin type. Especially if it's "natural." So were we mistaken all that time? Is oil the new everything? Can I actually clean my oily face with oil? Wha?

As usual, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Lots of oils have positive properties for various skin types. Some will work for some people and not for others. Adding oil isn't necessarily going to clog your pores or make your skin produce more oil - in fact, it might have the opposite effect. The trick, as always, is to experiment and find out what works for you.

I'm going to talk about my experience with cleansing using oils here. Facial oils that are supposed to treat skin issues are another thing (I'm partial to rosehip oil, myself), so I'll leave those out. This is about washing your damn face.

Do I need this?

Short answer: Oil is effective for removing makeup, but don't expect miracles (and you don't need to spend a ton of money on fancy oil cleansers).

BECCA is on HauteLook (most things ~70% off)

Disclosure: This post contains referral links. I may earn credits from purchases made through those links.
BECCA is a brand I've been curious about for a while, but not curious enough to buy anything (full price, at least). But 70% off? Hmmmm. I do need a new foundation. Has anyone tried their Satin Finish foundation (or the Luminous one)? Anything else in the sale worth trying? Off to google now.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Maybe I don't own all the eyeshadows yet: Swatches of L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy with comparisons

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission from purchases made through those links.
L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy
L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy
I bought this eyeshadow after a particularly brutal job interview, when I was wandering around CVS and got sucked in by one of their "spend $15 on L'Oreal and get $5". I like the formula of the Infallible shadows, but $8-9 always feels like a bit of a splurge for a single shade (though most of them are cheaper on Amazon at the moment). For comparison, they come out to almost $67 per ounce (or $2.30 per gram), while Urban Decay Naked palette shadows are $87 an ounce - and that's on the more reasonable side for a higher end palette (most are $100+ per ounce).

The formula of the Infallible eyeshadows is really nice, much better than the vast majority of drugstore eyeshadows in my experience, so having calculated it that way, I feel better about my purchase. In general, with the exception of a handful of gems, including Wet N Wild permanent shadows and Maybelline Color Tattoos (and MUA palettes if you are in the UK) good eyeshadow seems to be one of the most difficult types of makeup to find at the drugstore. So the Infallibles are worth checking out if you haven't already done so. I've included swatches of the three I have below.

I picked out the shade Gilded Envy in part because it reminded me of an e.l.f. eyeshadow I had years ago that I loved and lost. But I also picked it out thinking that surely by now, in my vast hoard, I had already replaced that with something comparable. I knew I shouldn't buy it, but I was letting my mood do the shopping.

When I got it home, I was pleasantly surprised to find that in fact I didn't already have anything like it. SHOCKING. It's a fairly unusual shade, obviously. Gilded Envy isn't easy to describe. Antique gold it the first phrase that comes to mind. I think the closest reference from the natural world is pyrite, which features the same grey-gold and glitter that this eyeshadow has. At some angles, as you can see in the many photos below, it reflects a bit of green. At other times, it looks mostly silver. This one is a shapeshifter. Depending on the lighting, you can get anything from old gold to khaki to forest green to steel gray. It's pretty spectacular. The differences you see in each photo below aren't inaccuracies from poor color adjusting - they reflect this stuff's true shiftiness.

L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy
Here are swatches, the first without primer and the second with the mediocre Nars primer I reviewed here. The primer does make a difference for swatching, but when I used Gilded Envy on my eyelids with the Nars primer, it was a patchy mess, so I took replacement photos after opening my new tube of Wet N Wild primer. (That's also the main reason this post took so long to finish. I took the original photos on the way out of the house earlier this week and then had to redo them today.)

Swatches of L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy (without primer and over primer)
Swatches of L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy (without primer and over primer)
Here it is on my eyelid (below). The best way to apply it to get a smooth, even layer is with your fingertip. You can use a brush if you must, but it will make more of a mess under your eyes. Blending the edges with a brush works fine. This is definitely a powder eyeshadow, not a cream, but it's very fine and not completely pressed in the pan, so it comes with that little extra lid to keep it from exploding, which you can see in the first photo in this post. I'm not sure how absolutely necessary that extra piece is. I've never seen any signs of my Infallible shadows disintegrating. Traveling with them might be different, but I haven't done that. On my eyes, in these photos, the gold comes through a little more than in the swatches.

L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy
L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy
L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy
L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy
Despite all the glitter that shows up in the swatches, it's not too crazy once you put it on your eyes. To me, it seems perfectly acceptable for daytime/work wear. I've noticed almost no glitter fallout throughout the day, either.

Unfortunately for you, but fortunately for me, I don't have any dupes to show you. Dupes are good for blogging, but bad for my wallet. I picked out three eyeshadows for comparison, simply as a point of reference, since I thought these might be familiar to some people: Urban Decay Mushroom, Urban Decay , and Maybelline Color Tattoo Bad to the Bronze.

Comparison swatches of L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy, Urban Decay Mushroom, Urban Decay Mildew, and Maybelline Color Tattoo Bad to the Bronze
Comparison swatches of L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Gilded Envy, Urban Decay Mushroom, Urban Decay Mildew, and Maybelline Color Tattoo Bad to the Bronze (no primer)
I also wanted to show you comparisons with the two other Infallible shadows I have: Eternal Sunshine and Sultry Smoke. These shadows come in a range of finishes, as you can see. Gilded Envy is glittery and shifty, as I've said - at some angles the glitter is hidden and at others it's very sparkly. Eternal Sunshine is straight up metallic. Sultry Smoke is completely matte (I've written about this one before, because it doesn't perform quite as well on my eyes as you would expect from the swatch).

L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadows in Eternal Sunshine, Gilded Envy and Sultry Smoke
L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadows in Eternal Sunshine, Gilded Envy and Sultry Smoke
The swatches are slightly blurry, but that helps bring out the level of sparkle.

Swatches of L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadows in Eternal Sunshine, Gilded Envy and Sultry Smoke
Swatches of L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadows in Eternal Sunshine, Gilded Envy and Sultry Smoke
As it turns out, I didn't fail too hard. I'm happy that buying my feelings actually worked out for once. Gilded Envy is unusual, versatile, and really pretty. I'm already getting a lot of use out of it. Still, it was a close call, and self-medicating with makeup shopping is not a good habit to get into - especially since there are undoubtedly many other terrible job interviews in my future. It's nice to know that there's still new shit out there for me to discover, nevertheless.

ETA: If you're having trouble finding this particular shade, Ally helpfully pointed out in the comments below that Gilded Envy is part of the Butterfly Collection, not one of the core Infallible eyeshadow shades.

Any other Infallible shadows you'd recommend (or suggest avoiding)?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Weird Shit I've Bought

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
I'm the kind of person who always wants to try new things. I have a hard time ordering the same meal when I go back to a restaurant, even if I know it's the best. (The exception is pizza margherita at my local Neapolitan-style pizza place, because why bother with anything else?) Sometimes this leads to fantastic new discoveries, and sometimes it leads to my trying to choke down mango-flavored Pepsi on a second date while a guy side-eyes me. Pepsi? Good. Mango? Good! Mango-flavored Pepsi? Very bad. The two of us met up with a friend later that day, and when I told her about it, she said, "Yeah, that sounds like the kind of thing you would buy." But I didn't scare the dude off, at least. We're still together 3 years later.

When it comes to buying what I will broadly label "personal care products," I do tend to be more systematic and cautious. I research things and read reviews; I look for sales; and I try to disregard fishy sounding marketing bullshit. But sometimes I betray my own principles and buy some crap in the hopes that it will make my life better, even when part of me suspects it's nonsense. It's rare, but it happens.

The things on this list aren't really super weird and quirky, but they are certainly questionable, because I bought them with some uncharacteristic optimism, ignoring the fact that they would probably do nothing.

Freeman Facial Revealing Peel Off Mask (Pomegranate)

Freeman Facial Revealing Peel Off Mask (Pomegranate)

I got a sample of a different peel off mask in an Ipsy bag once, and it was so fucking satisfying to use, that I bought this one too. But I used the sample half a dozen times before it ran out, so I've only just got to this one. I think this enormous tube will last a decade.

Also: I'm pretty sure these masks don't actually do much for your skin. (More on that here.) It provides the same enjoyment that you got from peeling glue off of your hands in elementary school. That's because it is, literally, glue - or at least a non-toxic, water-soluble polymer that is sometimes used as an adhesive (polyvinyl alcohol/PVA). This mask also contains some good things like humectants and anti-oxidants, but I don't know how much they actually absorb into the skin during the short period of time you use it. What it's really supposed to do is exfoliate a bit by taking some skin and debris with it when you peel it off. But I have used peel off masks over flaky skin and they don't tend to pick up much. It's almost purely recreational. This one was only $4-5, so I don't really regret paying that much for what will obviously be years of peely fun.

Badger Balm: Stress Soother and Focus Balm

Badger Balm: Stress Soother and Focus Balm

I bought these aromatherapy balms when I was writing my dissertation, even though I don't believe in aromatherapy. Grad school will drive you to all sorts of crazy things. It could have been worse than aromatherapy, I guess. I suppose I do believe to the extent that I think your mind can form strong associations with certain scents, so I thought at least I might be able to train myself to associate the Focus Balm with getting shit done and the Stress Soother with relaxing. I'm not sure how successful I was. I still open up the Focus Balm tin when I sit down at my desk at home, and I put some Stress Soother on my wrists and in my cleavage when I do yoga. They both smell really lovely.

You're supposed to rub them on your temples, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I assume it's the massaging of your temples that relaxes you more than anything else. Obviously the balm isn't absorbing directly into your stressed or unfocused brain. That would not be good. When I first got these, I made the terrible mistake of applying the Stress Soother directly below my nose. I thought that would be efficient - get the smell right in there. It burned like a motherfucker on the outside of my nostrils for an hour. DO NOT DO THAT.

The tins are a little inconvenient because, if you apply with your fingers, you'll need to wash your hands afterwards lest you touch your eye or something by mistake. These days they come in a more useful stick format, which I wish I had. So while I don't believe in aromatherapy, per se, these are wonderful, sort of greasy, solid perfumes. I enjoy them, even if they don't perform any magic.

Yoga Toes

Yoga Toes Gems

If I remember correctly, I saw these recommended in a comment thread on Jezebel, which is not my usual source for reliable information. I don't even remember what the person said these were supposed to do for me, but I got it in my head that I needed them. They're squishy silicone things that you put between your toes to stretch your feet. They are supposed to help with foot problems, like hammer toes (which I don't suffer from), and to help your posture and balance and make your feet and legs and back feel better and cause you to spontaneously develop the ability to teleport. Well, maybe not the last one. I have had them for 6 months now, but I probably haven't used them frequently enough to really notice a difference. I should use them right now, in fact . . . okay, there, I'm using them while I type out the rest of this thing. I don't know. This may have been a stupid purchase. But if I learn how to teleport, I'll report back. My feet do feel kind of nice when I take them off.

Pure silk pillow case

I don't have a photo of this, but it looks like a pillowcase. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase is supposed to completely stop you from aging and give you Disney princess hair, it seems. But the evidence to support its actually being effective for skincare is slim. I think that it maybe prevents creases on my face a bit, because when I roll over or adjust my position the skin on my face doesn't get scrunched up against the pillowcase too much. I don't know if that has any actual effects on wrinkle prevention. It's probably a little more useful for preventing tangled hair or frizz than for doing anything to the skin, because it's so smooth. I've heard some people complain that silk pillowcases are too slippery and their heads slide right off of them, but I've never had that problem.

I'm not going to tell you to buy a $20 pillowcase like I did, because that's obviously ridiculous. It won't turn you into a princess. It may, however, make you feel a little bit like a princess, especially if you are a front or side sleeper, because it's so smooth on your face. Okay, it feels fucking amazing and I love it, but still. It's a $20 pillowcase. Not my wisest investment.

(Maybe get a silk shirt from a secondhand shop and sew your own?)

Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad

Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad

This one is a little bit different in that it seemed like a genius purchase at the time, but in practice it hasn't worked out quite so well. First of all, it was hard to get the suction cups to stick to my shower wall, which is in an apartment where the tiles have been painted over multiple times and are pretty rough. The pad eventually stayed in place, but the pencil never did. Second, if you rub your hand against the sheet when it's wet, the writing will smear off. So you have to be careful.

Most annoying, but in retrospect least surprising, is that the humidity in my bathroom caused the pencil to split so that it can't be sharpened. Not surprising, because it's a wooden pencil, and changes in humidity cause wood to expand and contract like crazy. This set really should come with a pencil encased in plastic, like some eyeliners. I mean, I can always find another pencil for cheap - it's not a special one - but chances are it will keep happening.


The notepad itself is certainly useful for writing down all those ideas that only come to you in the shower and that you forget as soon as you towel off. But it's not perfect.

So that's about it. All of the other purchases I've ever made in my entire life have been carefully thought out and not at all regrettable. Yep.  How about you?

In lieu of a real post . . .

I've been fiddling around with the design of the blog. What do you think? I made it a little more SFW, but hopefully not too obnoxiously PG. I'm not sure about the plain white background (I'm certainly not a minimalist, aesthetically), but I haven't found anything else I really like yet.

Suggestions, in general, welcome! (Lose the deer-in-the-headlights selfie in the right margin?)

I'm working on a post about stupid shit I have bought for a variety of nonsensical reasons, and that should appear very soon. I just need to take a few photos.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Someone is wrong on the Internet

This is totally unrelated to anything else I blog about, except that I was looking at some minimalist blogs and kept seeing it. Feel free to roll your eyes and move on.

"The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less." - Socrates

Nope. That's not a quotation from Socrates, the Greek philosopher whose portrait accompanies most of its appearances on various blogs. A small amount of googling shows that it's spoken by a character nicknamed Socrates in a 2006 book by Dan Millman called Way of the Peaceful Warrior. You can find it here on page 162. Totally modern. The character was even played by Nick Nolte in a movie, apparently.

And sure, Socrates was a minimalist, I guess, but only because he thought philosophy was more important than having a job. (Not sure how his wife and kids felt about that.) His philosophy wasn't minimalism, however, and minimalism wasn't one of his philosophical principles.

So just putting that out there. Maybe someday it will be useful to someone trying to find the source of that quotation. It's weird how these false memes replicate themselves.

See also: xkcd.